Attention please: Territorial Cup action is on the horizon, and expect numerous black eyes on Black Friday. ASU and U of A's rivalry could be one of the best unknown gems.
Personnel wise, both squads matchup relatively evenly. The Sun Devils are 6-5 while the Wildcats are 7-4. Head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham provide a bright outlook for college football in Arizona.
Speaking of coaches, Rodriguez and Graham's prior history together adds an additional demension to the cross state brawl.
"It is the biggest game of the year, every year," Graham said. "It is about Arizona State University winning the Territorial Cup. That's it."
"This shouldn't be a game where I have to do all of the motivational tactics to get guys excited," Rodriguez said according to ESPN.
I could provide more background information, but we all know the situation, magnitude and stats. Let's dive right in with my famous three keys ASU needs to accomplish to leave Tucson victorious.
1. Jump On It (Fast Start)
Throughout ASU's preparation this week, players noted U of A's hostile environment. Although, an early Devil's lead will turn Wildcat nation into calm kittens.
Despite the road team's success recently, home field advantage can't be taken for granted. Obviously, fundamentals and execution will decide the outcome, yet crowd noise can be overwhelming and a major determent.
Due to Thanksgiving, the attendance may fall short, especially student wise. Regardless, whoever is present should be obnoxious.
Historically, ASU struggles on the road, but top-notch play from the outset should provide a quality spark plug.
2. Will Sutton
Will Sutton isn't a household name, but possesses elite talent. At 6-foot-2 and 271 pounds, Sutton is rather small for an interior lineman.
Against Oregon, Sutton logged two snaps, one of them resulted in a Sun Devil touchdown via his caused fumble. Experts say Sutton is disruptive, beastly, and intimidating.
Washington State caused Sutton to struggle, accumulating a mere three tackles and no sacks. Conversely, that mediocre performance was an abnormality. When the clock strikes double zeros, Sutton's stat line could be the most important.
Ka'Deem Carey is supremely gifted, but there is no derailing an effective Sutton. ASU's sole realistic shot at slowing down Carey resides on Sutton.
3. Remain Disciplined
Hatred, animosity, detestation. All three strong adjectives don't quite sum up the relationship between ASU and U of A.
Emotions commonly trigger regrettable actions; the Devil's disciplined nature must stay in tact. A year ago, this request would have been unrealistic. Now, anything less than a mature smart team is disappointing.
Unnecessary penalties won't be tolerated, and a few recent miscues proved costly. One player to worry about is ASU defensive end Junior Onyeali, his physical nature sometimes becomes chaotic (so I recommend him taking a chill pill.)
At 105 yellow hankies, the Devils rank 22nd best, a drastic improvement from last year's debacle. Regardless of any Wildcat shenanigans, ASU must remain cool.
Prediction Time: ASU over U of A 45-38